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Local BioBlitz Challenge – A Huge Success!


The Centre supported the first Local BioBlitz Challenge on 8th June. The purpose of the event was to highlight the natural heritage value of local sites and to promote their appreciation and conservation. The sites that participated in the 2013 Local BioBlitz Challenge were: 

  • Abbeyleix Bog, Co. Laois
  • Abbeyfeale Park, Co. Limerick
  • Bull Island and St. Anne’s Park, Dublin
  • Cabragh Wetlands, Co. Tipperary
  • Gap of Dunloe, Co. Kerry

Below are reports from each site on how their BioBlitz event went:

Report from Abbeyleix Bog, Co Laois – Mark McCorry

Volunteers at Abbeyleix Bog BioBlitz

The Abbeyleix Local Bioblitz Challenge started in earnest at 9.30 pm on a beautiful sunny Friday evening when 42 brave souls came out on the Bat walk with Peadar Lynch. Moth traps were set by Ciara Flynn of the National Parks and Wildlife Service and 36 species of moth were recorded many of which had only been recorded once before in Co. Laois.

More hardy people with several members of the Laois branch of Birdwatch Ireland came out the next morning at 5.00 am to the dawn chorus walk, led by local ecologist Dr Mark McCorry. In all 31 species of bird were recorded during the day.

Bioblitz began to get busier at about 9.00 am when the first recorders started to arrive. There were about 20 experts who volunteered their time including botanists, bryologists and ornithologists, as well as some generalists. Basecamp was set up at the Manor Hotel with plenty of people coming in to look at the biodiversity exhibition, kids getting their faces painted by local volunteers and smaller kids enjoying the ‘pond-dipping’ activities set up outside by the Clara Bog Visitor Centre.

Tadhg O’Corcora of the Irish Peatlands Conservation Council led an excited group of children to do some pond-dipping in some of the drains around

Basecamp at Abbeyleix Bog

the bog. Wild food forager Mary Bulfin showed a large group of people some of the many plants growing along the old railway that can be enjoyably eaten and Therese Kelly, of the NPWS Clara Bog Visitor Centre, showed another group of children later in the day ‘how to be a bog detective’. Resident Abbeyleix Bog experts Annemarieke Van Der Voort, Clare Coffey and Mark Slattery then brought a group out to look for butterflies and dragonflies. The guided events finished with a look at the wildflowers growing along the old railway with local ecologist, Dr Fiona MacGowan.

Abbeyleix Bioblitz was a huge success, both in raising awareness of Abbeyleix Bog and biodiversity in general, and recording so much important biological data. The 355 species recorded on the site only partly paints a picture of the bog as common species that would be expected to be found or seen using the site were not recorded on the day. Many thanks are due to everyone who helped organise and support, led guided events, recorded species and lastly took part and enjoyed Bioblitz on Abbeyleix Bog. See AbbeyleixBog Facebook page for more information about Bioblitz and about the bog.

Report from Abbeyfeale Park, Co Limerick – Anneke Vrieling

The focus at Abbeyfeale Park was to entertain and educate children about biodiversity for most of the day with less emphasis on recording. Amongst

Abbeyfeale Park volunteers

the events were a bird walk, bird of prey show, mini beast hunt and pond dipping. Thanks to Ken Bond the Small Bordered Brindle was recorded, according to Ken not so common and the 1st record for co. Limerick

Report from Bull Island and St. Anne’s Park, Dublin City Council – Maryann Harris

Pictured is Niall Hatch from BirdWatch Ireland with Cara Sexton aged 6, with her brothers Eric aged 8 and Gareth aged 4 all from Cabra. Picture Colm Mahady / Fennells Copyright 2013 Fennell Photography

The Bioblitz was new for us and turned out to be a fantastic way to increase awareness. We had great demand for all of our guided walks, with many families joining us to record at both locations. The Lord Mayor, Naoise Ó’Muirí , stopped by both locations to start the day’s recording on Saturday, with the results from our moth traps being first priority! Our event received coverage on several radio stations (FM 104, 98FM, NearFM, DublinFM) and in the Irish Independentand local papers and websites. The nature theme was explored by artists working with children and by DCC staff running nature play workshops throughout the day. Philip Strickland’s stunning exhibit, ‘Moths on Canvas’ was launched and continues in the gallery at the Red Stables. Native tree trail walks in the woods and bee walks in the formal gardens at St. Anne’s and bird watching walks at Bull Island 

were most popular. The butterfly walks were busy and recorded many species. The bat walk was booked out, and brought great excitement as many had never seen a bat before! Pond-dipping was popular with kids. Many people asked us if we can do this again next year, they thought it was such a good event. We counted 237 species – an amazing result! Thanks to IWT, BSBI, Birdwatch Ireland, Irish Seal Sanctuary, Bat Conservation Ireland, Irish Beekeepers’ Association, Master Composters, TCD, UCD, artist Martina Galvin and all volunteers and DCC staff for bringing Bioblitz to Dublin so successfully!

Report from Cabragh Wetlands, Co Tipperary – Adam Tozer 

Pond dipping at St Anne’s Park with Letizia Cocchiglia. Picture Colm Mahady / Fennells Copyright 2013 Fennell Photography

We had a very busy 24 hours, and were delighted with the turnout from the public. About 120 plus experts came to record a total of 295 species.

A Flower Walk, Owl Watch and Bat Walk on Friday evening kept a good crowd at Cabragh until midnight, though the owls stubbornly refused to fly (but were around the next evening) and the bats clearly sensed the presence of people and only a small pipistrelle flew into radar range of our Bat Detector. Bird Watch were out before dawn on Saturday, and a 6.30 start to our Otter Walk along the River Suir meant a small crowd, but plenty of spraints.

After breakfast a Footprints, Pellets, Pooh and Spraints Walk identified otter footprints and heron. Plant experts, led by Roger Goodwillie, led the way in identification, with Roger at one stage ticking them off at a rate of one per minute for an hour – an impressive display of expertise, focus and commitment to his subject.

A team from Inland Fisheries brought up a tank from the tiny Killough River, feeding through the wetlands into the Suir, and I think we were all amazed to discover eels, brook lamprey, crayfish and even trout and salmon parr.

The willingness of our ornithologists, moth, butterfly and plant experts to talk to the public, share their findings, advise on identification, explain esoteric points of structure, colour, feel, human usage, and so on, was fantastic and quite a few of the public stayed for 12 hours or more over the two days.

Report from the Gap of Dunloe – Alice D’Arcy and Isobel Abbott

Recording at the Gap of Dunloe

Thanks to everyone who participated in our local bioblitz in the Gap of Dunloe last weekend! We had a great team of expert volunteer guides, recorders and coordinators who spent the 24 hours exploring the area. We had a fabulous weekend of weather and nature, recording over 300 species in the 24 hour period, including 45 bird species, 11 mammals (5 of which were bats), 189 vascular plants, 20 bryophytes (mosses and liverworts), a few fish, frogs, fungi, some lichens, and a number of invertebrates including beetles, bugs, flies, worms, slugs, butterflies, bees, moths and dragonflies!

More details of some of the species found with photographs can be found in the gallery on our website: www.reekstrust.org.

We also had some very enthusiastic helpers on our nature walks! They did a brilliant job recording bats, trapping mice and bank voles, finding butterflies, bugs and all sorts of little critters to add to our list.

Thanks to the National Biodiversity Data Centre for their help, Moriarty’s for providing the Basecamp for the day, Kate Kearneys for hosting the talks, and UCC School of BEES and Killarney National Park Education Centre for the use of sampling equipment. And of course thank you so much to the volunteers/guides:

Dr. Isobel Abbott, Barbara Doerr, Gema Hernandez, Dr. Allan Mee, Dr. Meabh Boylan, Colin Heaslip, Kilian Kelly, Eoin Kelleher, Inga Reich, Dr. Therese Higgins, Eoghan Daltun, Darren Reidy, David Kelligan.

Congrats to the winners in the kids colouring competition, all the entries were amazing (you can see them here, I wish we could have had prizes for everyone! Thanks to Dingle Aquarium, Tralee Bay Wetlands, Kerry Outdoor Sports, and Eddie Rockets in Killarney for their contributions.

Source: National BioDiversity Data Centre - Local BioBlitz Challenge – A Huge Success!